Transforming Community Volunteering Into a “Portfolio” Career

Mary is a PhD in Education- Early Childhood student who has given back to her small town community for over 25 years.  Through her many volunteer roles, she advocated for children, taught parenting workshops, developed an early childhood training program, and served on education committees.  As a respected community member, she led a comfortable life committed to healthy families and the pursuit of lifelong learning.  In 2011, her husband lost his business and her circumstances drastically changed.

Due to the economic downturn, Mary’s family experienced devastating financial losses; they sold their home and personal possessions to make ends meet.  During this time, Mary scheduled with Career Services and received advice, encouragement, and job search skills to help her transform volunteer experience into paid employment.  She organized her curriculum vitae to highlight her many accomplishments, created a LinkedIn profile, and learned career management skills to re-enter the workforce.  She cultivated her networking contacts from volunteer positions and sought new opportunities where she could be compensated for her work.

Mary shared her achievements during her recent career appointment.  She was hired for an adjunct instructor position at a local university, had successfully taught an education course, and was planning to negotiate a contract to teach additional courses.  Although tenure may be a future option, her main goal is to pursue a “portfolio” career where she is able to teach, develop content, implement programs, write books, and follow her passion for early childhood education, while also earning an income.  She was recently paid to teach an adult continuing education workshop and is in the process of writing a children’s book with an illustrator she met through her network.

Mary continues to volunteer on committees and boards, and currently serves as a University Alumni Advisory Board President, state level Chair and Governor’s Representative of an Early Childhood Council, and International Mother’s Group Advisor.  She follows a calling in life that gives her strength and endurance to cope with life’s challenges.  In her grateful and endearing manner, she said, “I see [Career Services] as the spearhead behind me that opens many doors.”  Our best wishes to Mary as she continues to impact the field of Education and takes proactive steps toward financial recovery.

Written by Career Services Advisor Dina Bergren